Heading into UFC 189, how much of the pre-fight coverage, promotion and buzz has been tied to Jose Aldo-Conor McGregor, and now Chad Mendes-Conor McGregor? 85%? Maybe 90%? Do co-headliners Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler seem to mind? Evidently not.
Yes, since Saturday’s card will feature the sport’s fastest rising star in McGregor, the rest of the event has been largely overlooked, even though there are some pivotal fights booked. Case in point, Lawler-MacDonald, which is a welterweight championship fight and a rematch of their 2013 encounter.
Of course, neither MacDonald or the champ Lawler are exactly known for lighting up mics with inflammatory remarks. But, if McGregor wasn’t on this card, chances are there would be a much bigger spotlight shining on Lawler and MacDonald, no question.
Well, at the open workouts this week, both Lawler and MacDonald were asked about the fact they’ve been overshadowed by “Notorious” and Mendes, and here is what they had to say (quotes via MMA Fighting.com):
“It’s been a great ride,” MacDonald said. “We got to go on that tour they did. It’s been cool to be a part of it. I don’t think I’d like to be in the limelight like they are. But it’s part of the show.”
“It’s just business as usual,” Lawler said. “If I had to carry the show, I would do that. I’m just gonna go out there and be me and get in Rory’s face and get a knockout. I don’t really concentrate on the promotion as much. I’m just gonna be me and hope the crowd loves it.”
While Lawler-MacDonald isn’t going to drive PPV sales like the headliner, die hard fans and pundits understand it has the potential to be an outstanding and compelling bout.
Both men have improved since Lawler earned a split decision win in their first encounter, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what kind of approach MacDonald takes in round two. Will he look to keep Lawler at bay with his jab? And look to keep it standing? Or will he attempt to take the heavy handed fighter down? Chances are we’ll MacDonald try both.
UFC 189 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.